California Lemon Law Time Limit: How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?

by Aryn Plax

Oct 1, 2020

The California Lemon Law puts a four-year time limit for filing a lemon law claim against an auto manufacturer. This lemon law time limit is called the “statute of limitations.” A common misconception is that this time limit begins when you first purchase the vehicle. However, it actually does not start until you first suspect that your vehicle is a lemon.

The California Lemon Law states that a vehicle is defective if it has a recurring problem that 1) impacts the vehicle’s use, safety or value and 2) cannot be fixed within a reasonable number of attempts. That’s the key factor: your local dealership or authorized repair facility needs to be given a reasonable number of chances to fix the vehicle while it is still under warranty.

When it comes to the time limit for a lemon law claim, the clock typically starts when you first take your vehicle in for a repair visit related to the defect itself. Be mindful of when this first defect-related visit occurs. It not only affects how long you have to file a case, it can also affect the amount you receive in your lemon law refund, should you succeed in your case.

In a way, the time limit is tied to your vehicle’s warranty.

Locate your vehicle’s warranty to check how long it lasts for your different vehicle components. Keep in mind that if your warranty is not issued by the auto manufacturer, it does not count with regard to lemon law protections.

If these benchmarks are met, then you can possibly pursue a California lemon law case, even after the warranty has expired. If you suspect that your vehicle is a lemon, do not wait to consult with a lemon law attorney about your situation. Lemon law consultations are free, and a lemon law attorney can tell you more about your legal options.

Do not wait too long to take advantage of lemon law services, which often come at no out-of-pocket cost to you. If the time limit for a lemon law case passes, you will be barred from pursuing a claim for your vehicle.

If you suspect that your vehicle is a lemon, or if you want to know more about the California Lemon Law, get a free consultation by calling us at our toll free number: 877-222-2222.


Knight Law Group is an automotive lemon law firm that exclusively practices in California. If you are a California resident who purchased or leased a defective vehicle from a licensed dealership in California, we may be able to help you get rid of your potential lemon and recover significant cash compensation. Model year restrictions apply: 2015–Present vehicle models only.

However, we cannot help those who reside outside of California or purchased their vehicle outside of California unless they are active duty members of the Armed Forces, nor will we be able to refer those to a lemon law firm in their states. To learn more about the California Lemon Law and your legal rights, visit our California Lemon Law Guide for more information.